Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let’s Go to Cancun...

Beyond her, a gentle breeze played with the curtain, and revealed the Caribbean Sea. The sun was already up and made the water sparkle as diamonds. On the horizon, the cerulean blue of the sky and water merged as if stroked with the brush of a master painter who could rival Claude Monet. - Vacation is Murder (McKinley Mysteries)
Cancun, Mexico is an amazing vacation spot. Have you ever been? You might want to add it to your list of places to visit. 

My husband and I went there March of 2013 and both of us can’t wait to go back again. The beaches were white, and the water a beautiful blue. The air smells of the sea and sand and the people are hospitable. 

However, I admit that when we first got there, I felt out of place. The last time I had been outside of North America was as a teenager when I went to Jamaica. Yet, here I was as adult in a country where I didn’t speak the language or even understand the culture. At least my husband had visited Mexico before. Still, it was like the first time for him as Cancun is more commercialized than where he had been—Puerto Vallarta in the 80s.

One of the things I wanted to do the most while in Cancun was swim with the dolphins. In fact, I bought the tickets before I left home. It’s probably why I have Sean and Sara do this in my novella, Vacation is Murder. Further pulling from real life, the trainer we were assigned to told us that dolphins were like the dogs of the sea. Sean and Sara find out the same thing.

See, as I swam with the dolphins, I came to the same conclusion. While it was scary to me at first, being that close to a large mammal, in its element, by the end of our time with them, I found I really didn’t want to leave. I had come to trust them and connect with them.

The most memorable experience was when the trainer had us perform a trick with them that saw us swimming out at a fair distance from the rest of the group. We were to go out and hold our arms out to each side and slightly cup our hands, palms facing back. Then the two dolphins were to come, one to each side, and place its fin in your hand. This is where the magic truly began. 

A tangible energy travelled from one dolphin to the other. There was no mistaking the communication, are we ready to go? My response came from instinct and only then—when all three of us were in sync—did they start to pull me through the water. I was so touched by this experience, that even writing this to share with you, I’m whelmed up with emotion. If you ever have the opportunity to swim with dolphins, do it.

Another memorable day was visiting the Chichén Itzá ruins. I was hotter than I ever remember being in my life! I was surprised that I made it through the day without passing out. Part of the tour included lunch afterward. I remember standing there with the group, waiting to go in and having my head spin. Only sheer determination and hard-headedness kept me on my feet. 

But, to this day, I am thankful that I had that experience—not the dizziness—but being where history had been. : ) I got to see with my own eyes this wonder of the world and stand where the Mayans did so many years before. To be immersed in this setting, cut out in the middle of a jungle? Unbelievable.

The scientific advances and knowledge that the Mayans had is awe-inspiring. I talk about one of such experiences from Sara’s point of view in my novella:
The pyramid was large and breathtaking—to think that the Mayans had undertaken and accomplished such an enormous feat without the advantage of modern-day tools.
“It’s awe-inspiring,” she said. “What is that noise?” The sound of what resembled a bird cawing echoed down the stairs of the structure. She headed toward the base of the pyramid, where people were standing with a guide. 
She moved closer to the guide. “What is that?”
He took her in and, even though she wasn’t part of his group, he smiled at her. “When you clap your hands at the base of the stairs, it comes back sounding like their sacred bird, the quetzal.”
She put her hands together and, as the noise resounded, hairs rose on her arms and the back of her neck. “That is unbelievable.”
Just like Sara, the hairs on my arms and neck stood up. 

It was memories of my enjoyable holiday that made me choose Cancun for the setting in Vacation is Murder. When I was writing it, it was like I had boarded that plane again and was back in Cancun. I hope that this authenticity comes through in the emotion and feel of the book. My intention is to whisk my readers away...and at a small fraction of what the real vacation costs.

If you like the sound of getting away, you can download Vacation is Murder from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Kobo.